Chapter no 29

A Court of Silver Flames

Nesta’s legs gave out on step three thousand.

Panting, sweat running down her back, down her stomach, she braced her hands on her trembling thighs and closed her eyes.

The dream had been the same. Her father’s face, filled with love and fear, then with nothing as he died. The crack of his neck. Hybern’s sly, cruel smile.

Cassian and Azriel hadn’t been at dinner, and she’d received no explanation for it. They were probably either at the river house or out in the city, and she’d been surprised to find herself wishing for the company. Surprised to find that the silence of the dining room pressed on her.

Of course she wouldn’t be invited out. She’d made a point to be as unpleasant as possible for well over a year now. And more than that, they had no obligation to include her in everything.

No one had any obligation to include her at all. Or the desire to, apparently.

Her panting echoed off the red stone. She’d awoken from the nightmare in a cold sweat, and had been halfway here before she realized where she was going. If she even made it to the bottom, where would she go? Especially in her nightgown.

She could still see her father behind her closed eyes. Felt every flash of horror and pain and fear she’d endured during those months surrounding the


She had to find the Dread Trove—somehow.

She’d failed every task they’d ever given her. Had failed to stop the wall from being blasted apart, failed to save the Illyrian legion from the Cauldron’s incinerating blow—

Nesta shut down that train of thought.

Something thudded on the step beside her, and she blinked to find a glass of water.

“Thank you,” she said, drinking deep, letting its coolness settle her further. She asked into the dimness, “Have you read any books by Sellyn Drake?”

The House didn’t answer, which she assumed amounted to a no. “A friend is bringing me one of her novels tomorrow. I’ll share it with you when I’m done.”

Nothing. Then a cool breeze ran down the stairwell, soothing her sweaty brow. “Thank you,” she said again, leaning into the breeze.

Something else clinked beside her on the step, and she found two flat oval stones and three chunks of age-browned bone—anklebones of some ovine beast. Her mouth dried out. Bones and stones—for scrying. “I can’t,” she rasped.

That breeze knocked the bones together, their clicking like a question thrown into the stairwell. Why?

“Bad things happened the last time. The Cauldron looked at me. And took Elain.” She couldn’t stop her body from locking up. “I can’t endure it, risk it. Not even for this.”

The bones and stones vanished, along with that cooling breeze.

Nesta began the ascent, groaning softly. With each step, she could have sworn she tasted disappointment in the air.



“Nesta has to start looking for the Trove,” Amren said, swirling her wine in its glass as she sat across from Cassian at the river house’s massive dining table. Their monthly court dinner, as usual, had turned into hours of talking

around this table, and multiple bottles of wine later, as the clock ticked toward one in the morning, none of them showed any signs of moving.

Only Feyre had gone to bed. Being pregnant made her unbearably sleepy, she’d groused. So tired that she needed naps throughout the day, and was asleep most nights by nine.

Cassian met Amren’s gray stare. “Nesta’s been looking. Don’t push her.”

Rhys said from where he lounged at the head of the table, “She’s had the priestesses researching for her. I’d hardly call that looking.”

Varian, seated beside Amren, his arm draped over the back of her seat, asked, “You still haven’t asked Helion to research the Trove in his libraries?” Varian was the only person outside of the Night Court—and Eris

—whom Rhys had allowed to know of their search. But it had come with a risk: Varian served Tarquin, High Lord of the Summer Court. Though he had promised Rhys not to say anything about it to Tarquin without prompting, if Tarquin asked Varian about it, he’d find his allegiances held in a precarious balance.

Tarquin and Rhys’s relationship had healed since the war, but not enough for Rhys to trust the male with knowledge of the Trove. And Cassian, who’d gotten into one tiny little fight that might have resulted in one tiny little building being destroyed the last time he’d been in the Summer Court, was inclined to agree. Not about Tarquin. No, he liked the male. And liked Varian a great deal. But there were wicked people in the Summer Court—in every court—and he did not trust that they were as kind as their ruler.

“Helion is a last resort,” Rhys said, sipping his wine. “Which we may come to in a matter of days if Nesta does not at least attempt a scrying.” The last words were directed toward Cassian. “I’d have Elain try her hand before we approach him, though.”

Elain had already departed with Feyre, claiming she had to be up with the dawn to tend to an elderly faerie’s garden. Cassian didn’t exactly know why he suspected this wasn’t true. There had been some tightness in Elain’s face as she’d said it. Normally when she made such excuses, Lucien was around, but the male remained in the human lands with Jurian and Vassa.

Cassian countered, “Nesta will do it, if only to keep Elain from putting herself at risk. But you have to understand that Nesta was deeply affected by what happened during the war—Elain was taken by the Cauldron after she scried. You can’t blame her for hesitating.”

Amren said, “We do not have the time to wait for Nesta to decide. I say we approach Elain tomorrow. Better to have both of them working on it.”

Azriel stiffened, an outright sign of temper from him as he said quietly, “There is an innate darkness to the Dread Trove that Elain should not be exposed to.”

“But Nesta should?” Cassian growled. Everyone stared at him.

He swallowed, offering an apologetic glance to Az, who shrugged it off. Amren drained her wine and said to Cassian, “Nesta has a week. One more week to find the Trove with her own methods. Then we seek out other routes.” She threw a nod toward Azriel. “Including Elain, who is more than capable of defending herself against the darkness of the Trove, if she

chooses to. Don’t underestimate her.”

Cassian and Azriel looked to Rhys, who merely sipped from his own wine. Amren’s order held. As Rhys’s Second in this court, short of Rhys overruling her, her word was law.

Cassian glowered at Amren. “It’s not right to wield Elain as a threat to manipulate Nesta into scrying.”

“There are harsher ways to convince Nesta, boy.”

Cassian leaned back in his chair. “You’re a fool if you think threats will make her obey you.”

Everyone tensed again. Even Varian.

Amren’s lips spread in a sharp grin. “We are on the cusp of another war. We let the Cauldron slip from our hands in the last one and it nearly cost us everything.” Amren’s new Fae form was proof of that—she’d yielded her immortal, otherworldly self to remain in this body. No gray fire glowed in her eyes. She was mortal, in the way that High Fae were mortal. Varian’s fingers tangled in the blunt ends of her hair, as if to reassure himself that she was here, she’d remained with him. “We must head off this potential

disaster before we lose the advantage. If we need to manipulate Nesta into scrying, even by using Elain against her, then we’ll do what is necessary.”

His stomach tightened. “I don’t like it.”

“You don’t have to like it,” Amren said. “You just have to shut up and do as you’re told.”

“Amren,” Rhys said, the word laced with reprimand and warning.

Amren didn’t so much as blink in remorse, but Varian frowned at her. “What?” she snapped.

The Prince of Adriata gave her an exasperated smile. “Haven’t we talked about this? About … being nice?”

Amren rolled her eyes. But her face softened—ever so slightly—as she met Cassian’s stare again. “A week. Nesta gets a week.”



Three days passed. Emerie came to each lesson, and while Gwyn had mostly caught up to Nesta’s progress, Emerie would need more work. So Nesta and Gwyn partnered with each other, going through the sets of exercises that Cassian showed them before he worked one-on-one with Emerie on her balance and mobility.

None of them minded, not when Emerie had been right about the Sellyn Drake books. Nesta had stayed up two nights in a row reading the author’s first novel, which was as toe-curlingly erotic as she could have wished. And, as promised, Emerie had brought a copy of one of Drake’s tamer novels for Gwyn, who had arrived blushing the next morning and told Emerie that if the book was considered tame, then she could only imagine the content of the others.

After that first day, Emerie stayed for the entire length of their lessons, which had now officially stretched into a full three hours, deciding that her morning business traffic was slow enough to risk it. So they trained, and between their exercises they talked about books, and Nesta woke on the fourth morning and found herself … excited to see them again.

She was shelving a tome in the library that afternoon when Gwyn found her. Thanks to Gwyn’s lesson each morning, she’d been busier in the afternoons, which meant that Nesta rarely saw her in the library save for

when Gwyn was running through the stacks, hunting for some book or another for Merrill. Occasionally, Nesta heard a lovely, soaring snippet of song from some distant corner of the library—the sole indicator that Gwyn was near.

But that afternoon, it was Gwyn’s panting that announced her presence seconds before she appeared, her eyes wide enough that Nesta went on alert, scanning the dimness behind the priestess. “What?” Had the darkness below chased her?

Gwyn mastered herself enough to say, “I don’t know how, but Merrill learned you swapped the book out.” She gasped for air as she pointed up to a level high above. “You should go.”

Nesta frowned. “Who cares? I’m not going to let her scare me off like some errant child.”

Gwyn blanched. “When she’s in a fury, it is—”

“It is what, Gwyneth Berdara?” crooned a female voice from the stacks. “When I’m in a fury, it is what?”

Gwyn winced, turning slowly as the white-haired beauty appeared from the gloom. Her pale robes flowed behind her as if on a phantom wind, and the blue stone atop her hood flickered with light. Gwyn bowed her head, face paling. “I meant nothing by it, Merrill.”

Nesta ground her teeth at the bow, the fear on Gwyn’s face, in her soft words.

Priestesses halted along the railings above them.

Merrill turned her remarkable eyes to Nesta. “I do not appreciate thieves and liars.”

“Neither do I,” Nesta said coolly, lifting her chin.

Merrill hissed. “You tried to play me for a fool in my very own office.” She didn’t so much as look at Gwyn, who cringed away.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh? You mean when I went to see the book that my inane assistant had incorrectly given me—oh, yes, I knew about that from the start—and found the proper volume instead, with your scent upon it, it wasn’t you who did it?” Merrill looked between Gwyn and Nesta. “It is inexcusable to ask others to make up for your own stupidity and carelessness.”

Gwyn’s fear grated against her senses. Nesta said, voice dropping, “Gwyn did no such thing. And who cares? Are you so bored down here that you have to invent these dramas to entertain yourself?” She waved a hand to the open walkway behind Merrill. “We’re both busy. Clear off and let us work in peace.”

Someone gasped on a level above.

Merrill laughed, that phantom wind around her whispering. “Do you not know who I am, girl?”

“I know that you are keeping us from our work,” Nesta said with that flat calm she knew made people irate. “And I know that this is a library, but you hoard books like it is your own personal collection.”

Merrill bared her teeth. “You think I do not know you? The human girl who was shoved into the Cauldron and came out High Fae. The female who slew the King of Hybern and held up his head like a trophy as his blood rained upon her.”

Surprise lit Gwyn’s face at the graphic description. Nesta didn’t allow herself to so much as swallow.

“The wind whispers to me even here, under so much stone,” Merrill said. “It finds its way in through the cracks and murmurs the goings-on of the world in my ear.” Merrill snorted. “Do you think you are entitled to do as you please now?”

Nesta’s power rumbled in her veins. She stomped on it, shoved it down and strangled it. “I think you like to hear yourself talk too much.”

“I am descended from Rabath, Lord of the Western Wind,” Merrill seethed. “Unlike Gwyneth Berdara, I am no lackey to be dismissed.”

To hell with this witch. To hell with restraint and hiding.

Nesta let enough of her power simmer to the surface that she knew her own eyes glowed. Let it crackle, even as she ignored its wild, unholy bellowing.

Gwyn had backed away a step. Even Merrill blinked as Nesta said, “With a fancy title like that, surely such a petty grudge should be beneath you.”

Nesta smiled, savage and cruel. Merrill only glanced between her and Gwyn before saying, “Get back to your work, nymph.”

Wind snapping at her heels, Merrill stalked into the gloom.

Nesta dropped the thread of her power, quelling its music and roaring with an iron hand.

But it wasn’t until Merrill’s brisk wind faded that Gwyn leaned against a stack, rubbing her hands over her face. The priestesses who’d been watching launched into movement again, their whispering filling the library.

Nesta asked into the rustling quiet, “Nymph?”

Gwyn lowered her hands, noted the lack of glowing power in Nesta’s eyes, and sighed in relief. But her voice remained casual. “My grandmother was a river-nymph who seduced a High Fae male from the Autumn Court. So I’m a quarter nymph, but it’s enough for this.” Gwyn gestured to her large eyes—blue so clear it could have been the shallow sea—and her lithe body. “My bones are slightly more pliant than ordinary High Fae’s, but who cares about that?”

Perhaps that was why Gwyn was so good at the balancing and movement.

Gwyn went on, “My mother was unwanted by either of their people. She could not dwell in the rivers of the Spring Court, but was too untamed to endure the confinement of the forest house of Autumn. So she was given in her childhood to the temple at Sangravah, where she was raised. She partook in the Great Rite when she was of age, and I, we—my sister and I, I mean—were the result of that sacred union with a male stranger. She never found out who he was, for the magic chose him that night, and no one ever showed up to ask about twin girls. We were raised in the temple as well. I never left its grounds until … until I came here.”

Such pain filled Gwyn’s eyes then. Such terrible pain that Nesta knew not to ask about her mother, or the twin sister.

Gwyn shook her head, as if dispelling the memory. She spread her fingers. “My twin had the webbed fingers of the nymphs—I don’t.”


Again, Gwyn sighed. “Merrill will make your life a living hell, you know.”

“She can try,” Nesta said mildly. “It’d be difficult to make it any worse.”

“Well, now we have a common enemy. Merrill will never forget this.” She nodded toward the railings where the priestesses had been. “Though I suppose they won’t, either. It’s not every day someone stands up to her. Only Clotho can really make her fall in line, but Clotho lets her have her way, mostly because Merrill throws those windy tantrums that can send everyone’s manuscripts scattering.”

“Anytime you need someone to knock Merrill down a few pegs, let me know.”

Gwyn smiled slightly. “Next time, perhaps I’ll have the courage to do it myself.”



It seemed the priestesses didn’t forget what Nesta had done.

Nesta, Gwyn, and Emerie were going through their opening stretches, Cassian stone-faced and eagle-eyed to catch any mistake, when footsteps scuffed in the archway beyond the pit.

They all paused at the three hooded figures who emerged, hands clasped so tightly that their knuckles were white.

But the priestesses stepped into the sunlight, the open air. Blinked up at it, as if remembering what such things were.

Gwyn nimbly rolled to her feet, grinning so broadly that Nesta was momentarily taken aback by it. The priestess had been pretty in the library, but with that joy, that confidence as she aimed for the three priestesses, she had emerged into a beauty to rival Merrill or Mor.

Or maybe nothing had changed at all beyond that confidence, the way Gwyn’s shoulders were pushed back, her head high, her smile free as she said, “Roslin. Deirdre. Ananke. I was hoping you’d come.”

Nesta hadn’t checked the sign-up sheet that morning. Had stopped believing anyone except Gwyn would ever come to training.

But the three of them huddled together as Cassian offered a casual smile that was nearly a replica of Rhys’s. Designed to put people at ease and lessen the threat of his power, his body. “Ladies,” he said, gesturing to the ring. “Welcome.”

Roslin and Ananke said nothing, but the one in the middle, Deirdre, tugged back her hood.

Nesta clamped down on every instinct that would have had her gasping.

Emerie, on the mat beside her, seemed to be trying to do the same.

A long, vicious scar cut across Deirdre’s face, narrowly missing her left eye. It was raised, stark white against her brown skin, and flowed from her tightly curling black hair to her slender, lovely jaw. Her round dark eyes, framed by a thick sweep of lashes that made them seem even rounder, were wide but determined as she said, “We hope we are not too late.”

All of them looked to Nesta. But she wasn’t the leader here.

She threw Cassian a glance, and he gave her a shrug as if to say, I’m just the instructor.

Another scar flowed down Deirdre’s neck, disappearing beneath her robe. For such scars to exist on a High Fae at all suggested an event of such violence, such horror, that Nesta’s stomach clenched. But she stepped toward the priestess. “We were just starting.”



“Give me those stones and bones, please,” Nesta said quietly to the House as she sat in the private library, a map of all seven courts before her, Cassian a step behind her.

A small earthenware bowl appeared beside the map, filled with them. Nesta swallowed against the dryness in her mouth.

Cassian whistled. “It really does listen to you.”

She peered over a shoulder. She’d invited him here after she’d returned from working in the library out of pure caution, she told herself. If she lost control, if she wasn’t able to witness where her finger landed on the map, someone had to be here. That person just so happened to be him.

Never mind that he’d once stood beside her, his hand upon her back as it was now, and let her lean into his warmth and strength.

Cassian glanced between the bowl of scrying instruments and the map. “Why did you change your mind?”

Nesta didn’t give herself time to hesitate before she slid her fingers into the bowl and scooped up the handful of stones and bones. They clinked

against each other, hollow and ancient.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about those priestesses who came to practice today. Roslin said she hadn’t set foot outside in sixty years. And Deirdre, with those scars …” She took a long breath. “I am asking them to be brave, to work hard, to face their fears. Yet I’m not doing the same.”

“No one accused you of that.”

“I don’t need anyone to say it. I know it. And I might fear this scrying, but I fear being a cowardly hypocrite even more.”

The priestesses had been novices in every sense of the word: Ananke had such terrible balance she’d fallen over trying to plant her toes in the dirt. Roslin had been only a fraction better. Neither had removed their hoods, not as Deirdre had done, but Nesta had caught glimpses of wine-red hair on Roslin and golden hair on Ananke, their skin pale as cream.

Cassian said, “You sure you don’t want to do this with Rhys and Amren around?”

Nesta squeezed the bones and stones in her fist. “I don’t need them.” He fell silent, letting her concentrate.

It had taken a few moments the first and only time she’d done it. To let her mind go empty, to wait for that tug through her body that had hauled her toward an unseen force. She’d been whipped across the earth, and when she’d opened her eyes, she’d been standing in a war-tent, the King of Hybern before her, the Cauldron a squatting, dark mass beyond.

Nesta closed her eyes, willing her mind to quiet as she lifted her tight fist over the map. She focused upon her breathing, upon the rhythm of Cassian’s breathing.

Her swallow was loud to her ears.

She’d failed at everything. But she could do this.

She’d failed her father, failed Feyre for years before that. Failed her mother, she supposed. And with Elain, she’d failed as well: first in letting her get taken by Hybern that night they’d been stolen from their beds; then by letting her go into that Cauldron. Then when the Cauldron had taken her into the heart of Hybern’s camp.

She’d failed and failed and failed, and there was no end to it, no end— “Anything?”

“Don’t talk.”

Cassian grunted, but sidled closer, his warmth now solidly at her side.

Nesta willed her mind to empty. But it couldn’t. It was like being in that damned stairwell—she just circled around and around and around, down and down.

The Dread Trove. She had to find the Dread Trove.

The Mask, the Harp, the Crown.

But the other thoughts pressed in. Too many.

The Mask, she strained to think. Where is the Mask of the Dread Trove?

Her palm slickened with sweat, the stones and bones shifting in her fist. If the Mask was aware like the Cauldron had been … She couldn’t let it see her. Find what she loved most.

Couldn’t let it see her, find her, hurt her.

The Mask, she willed the stones and bones. Find the Mask.

Nothing answered. No tug, no whisper of power. She exhaled through her nostrils. The Mask, she willed them.

There was nothing.

Her heart thundered, but she tried again. A different route. Thought of their common origin—the one she and the Trove shared. The Cauldron.

Yawning emptiness answered.

Nesta furrowed her brow, clenching the items harder. Pictured the Cauldron: the vast bowl of darkest iron, so large multiple people could have used it as a bathtub. It had a physical shape, yet when that icy water had swallowed her, there had been no bottom. Just a chasm of freezing water that had soon become utter darkness. The thing that had existed before light; the cradle from which all life had come.

Sweat beaded on her brow, as if her very body rebelled against the memory, but she made herself recall how it had sat in the King of Hybern’s war-tent, squatting atop the reeds and rugs, a primordial beast that had been half-asleep when she’d entered.

And then it had opened an eye. Not one she could see, but one that she could feel fixed on her. It had widened as it realized who stood there: the female who had taken so much, too much. It had narrowed all of its depthless power, its rage, upon her, a cat trapping a mouse with its paw.

Her hand shook. “Nesta?”

She couldn’t breathe. “Nesta.”

She couldn’t endure it, the memory of that ancient horror and fury—

She opened her eyes. “I can’t,” she rasped. “I can’t. The power—I don’t think I have it anymore.”

“It’s there. I’ve seen it in your eyes, felt it in my bones. Try again.”

She couldn’t summon it. Couldn’t face it. “I can’t.” She dropped the stones and bones into their dish.

She couldn’t endure the disappointment in Cassian’s voice, either, as he said, “All right.”

She didn’t eat dinner with him. Didn’t do anything except crawl into her bed and stare up at the darkness, and free-fall into it.



It was searching for her.

Winding through the hallways of the House, wending like a dark snake, it searched and sniffed and hunted for her.

She couldn’t move from her bed. Couldn’t open her eyes to sound the alarm, to flee.

She felt it come closer, crawling up the stairs. Down her hallway. She couldn’t move her body. Couldn’t open her eyes.

Darkness slid through the crack between her door and the stone floor.

No—it couldn’t have found her. It would catch her this time, hold her down on this bed and rip from her everything she had taken from it.

The darkness slithered to her bed, and she forced her eyes open to see it gather over her, a cloud with no shape, no form, but such wicked presence that she knew its name before it leaped.

She screamed as the Cauldron’s darkness pinned her to the bed, and then there was nothing but the horrible weight of it filling her body, tearing her apart from the inside out—

And then nothing.



Cassian jolted awake and reached for the knife on his nightstand. He didn’t know why. He’d had no nightmare, heard no sound.

Yet terror and dread sluiced through him, ratcheting up his heartbeat. The lone Siphon on his hand glowed like fresh blood, as if also seeking an enemy to strike.


But the air had gone cold as ice. So cold his breath clouded, and then the lamps flared to life. Flared and flickered, flashing, as if desperately signaling to him.

As if the House were begging him to run.

He vaulted from the bed, and the door opened before he could careen into it. Launching into the hall, knife in hand, he didn’t care that he was in his undershorts, or that he only had one Siphon. Az’s door flung open a heartbeat later, and his brother’s steps closed in behind him as Cassian hit the stairs and raced down them.

He’d reached the landing of Nesta’s level when she screamed. Not a scream of rage, but of pure terror.

His body distilled at that scream, as if it were no more than the knife in his hand, a weapon to be used to eliminate and destroy any threats to her, to kill and kill and not stop until every last enemy was dead or bleeding.

Her door was open, and light blazed from within. Silvery, cold light.

“Cassian,” Az warned, but Cassian pushed himself faster, running as swiftly as he ever had in his life. He slammed into the archway of her door, rebounding off it and into the room, and came up short at what he beheld.

Nesta lay in her bed, body arched. Bathed in silver fire.

She was screaming, hands ripping at the sheets, and that fire burned and burned without destroying the blankets, the room. Burned and writhed, as if devouring her.

“Holy gods,” Azriel breathed.

The fire radiated cold. Cassian had never heard of such a power amongst the High Fae. Fire, yes—but fire with warmth. Not this icy, terrible twin.

Nesta arched again, sobbing through her teeth.

Cassian lunged for her, but Azriel grabbed him around the middle. He snarled, debating whether he could rip out of Azriel’s arms, but the hold Az had on him was too clever.

Nesta screamed again, and a word appeared in it. No. She began shouting it, pleading, No, no, no.

Nesta arched once more, and that fire sucked in, as if a great inhale had been made, and was about to be exhaled, rupturing through the world—

The windows of the room blew out.

Night burst in, full of shadows and wind and stars.

And as Nesta erupted, silver fire blasting outward, Rhys pounced.

He smothered her fire with his darkness, as if he’d dropped a blanket on it. Nesta screamed, and this time it was a sound of pain.

The night cleared enough that Cassian could see Rhys at the bed, roaring something that the wind and fire and stars drowned out. But from his lips, Cassian knew it was her name. “Nesta!” Rhys shouted. The wind cleared enough for Cassian to hear this time. “Nesta! This is a dream! 

Nesta’s fire reared again, and Rhys shoved a wave of blackness upon her. The entire House shook.

Cassian thrashed against Azriel, bellowing at Rhys to stop it, stop hurting her—

Rhys’s darkness pushed down, and Nesta’s flame battled upward, as if their two powers were swords clashing in battle, fighting for the advantage.

Dominance thundered in Rhys’s words this time. “Wake up. It’s a dream. Wake up.”

Nesta still fought, and Rhys gritted his teeth, power gathering again.

“Let me go,” Cassian said to Azriel. “Az, let me go right now.” Azriel, to his surprise, did.

Cassian knew the odds were against him. He had a knife and one Siphon. To get caught in the magic between Nesta and Rhys would be akin to entering a lion’s den unarmed.

But he walked to where silver fire and darkest night battled. And he said with steady calm, “Nesta.”

The silver fire flickered.


He could have sworn her consciousness, that power, shifted toward him.

Just long enough.

The wave of Rhys’s power that hit her wasn’t the brute attack of earlier, but a soft wave that washed over that flame. Banked it.

Rhys went still in a way that told Cassian his brother was no longer fully present, but rather in the mind of the female who had gone unmoving upon the bed. He’d rarely thought twice about Rhys’s gifts as a daemati— Feyre’s gift, too—but he’d never been more grateful for it.

Cassian barely dared to breathe. Azriel hovered behind him as Rhys stood before the bed.

Slowly, that flame receded. Vanished like smoke. Slowly, Nesta’s body relaxed.

And then her breathing evened out, her body going limp. Blissfully unconscious.

Cassian swallowed, his heart pounding so hard he knew Azriel could hear it as his brother came up beside him.

Then Rhys inhaled sharply, his body full of movement again. Azriel asked, his own shadows gathering at his shoulders, “What happened?”

But Rhys just walked to the little sitting area and slumped into a chair. The High Lord’s hands were shaking—trembling so wildly that Cassian had no idea what to do. From the worry etched on Azriel’s face, neither did his brother.

Cassian asked, “Should we send for Feyre?”

“No.” The word was a snarl. Rhys’s eyes flared like violet stars. “She doesn’t come near here.”

“Was that …” Azriel glanced to the bed and the unconscious female atop it. “That was Nesta’s true power? That silver fire?”

“Only the surface of it,” Rhys whispered, hands still shaking as he ran them down his face. “Fuck.”

Cassian braced his feet, as if he could physically intercept whatever Rhys was about to say.

“I went into her nightmare.” Rhys peered up at Cassian. “Why didn’t you tell me you attempted a scrying today?”

“It didn’t work.” And Nesta’s fear and guilt had been so heavy in the room that his chest had ached. He’d left her alone afterward, knowing she’d want privacy.

Rhys blew out a shuddering breath. “The scrying was a trip wire. For the memories. I caught that as I went in.” His throat worked, as if he’d heave, but he held it down. “She was dreaming of the Cauldron. Of … of when she went in.” Cassian had never seen Rhys at such a loss for words.

“I saw it,” Rhys whispered. “Felt it. Everything that happened within the Cauldron. Saw her take its power with her teeth and claws and rage. And I saw … felt … what it took from her.”

Rhys rubbed his face, and slowly straightened. He met Cassian’s stare unflinchingly, his eyes full of remorse and agony. “Her trauma is …” Rhys’s throat bobbed.

“I know,” Cassian whispered.

“I guessed,” Rhys breathed, “but it was different to feel it.” “What is her power?” Azriel asked.

“Death,” Rhys whispered, hands trembling again as he got to his feet and aimed toward the window, which was now repairing itself shard by shard, as if a careful, patient hand worked upon it. He gazed at the female sleeping in the bed, and fear clouded the face of the High Lord of the Night Court. “Pure death.”

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